The Stranger by Harlan Coben

Wow, just wow. I just finished reading The Stranger and I felt like I immediately needed to put down my thoughts.

What a story. Seriously. There were little things at first that I thought were kind of lazy writing. I won’t spoil it, but the names of the websites that the stranger was getting their information from just seemed too obvious for me. I actually think I rolled my eyes when Adam found out the web address for the website his wife used.

Once I got past that though, the story was so could. I honestly felt like I couldn’t put it down. Each chapter ended so well that I needed to keep reading. It had so many unexpected twists and turns. I loved it. It kind of reminded me of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Not the story exactly, but the mystery and how it was solved. I wonder if Harlan Coben is a fan.

The ending was good, but wasn’t what I wanted. I guess I always kind of want happy endings, but we don’t always get what we want. I really can’t wait to watch the show on Netflix. I’ve heard that it’s British, which is interesting. I wonder why they made that change.

Anyway…I absolutely loved this. Has Harlan Coben written anything else? I may need to check him out.

Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss and Redemption by Daniel Jones

I’m not sure I’ve ever really talked about this, but  I do the majority of my reading on a Kindle. I’m sure that’s pretty common now, so it’s not something that really needs to be talked about. I’ve always been a reader though, so I do kind of love the feeling of flipping through pages and having an actual book in your hands.

Every so often, I’ll take trips to the bookstore with my family members and search for something new to read. Right before we were issued stay-at-home orders, my mom and I went to Books A Million just on a whim one day. I actually have a really hard time finding books at bookstores because I want to walk through the entire store and check out everything before I make a decision. There was a section for books that have been made into tv shows and movies that I kept coming back to, so eventually I made two purchases there.

Modern Love stuck out to me. I feel like I’ve hinted at this a few times in past posts, but I’ve had this “thing” with a person for almost 3 years now that’s been very hot and cold. I think it’s safe to say it’s over for good now, but it was definitely a roller coaster of emotions for me the last few years.

I’m not going to share all the details here, but what stuck out to me the most about this book was that it was about unconventional love stories. My story with this person didn’t make sense to anyone else that knew the details and it doesn’t have a happy ending, but I felt like (at least on my part) it was real, pure love. Now, enough about me…

I really enjoyed this book. I loved that the stories about the relationships weren’t just couples. I loved how different they all were. The stories made me teary-eyed, they made me laugh, they made me smile. Above everything, I felt like each story touched me in a different way. I felt like each story was important to be reading, even if I couldn’t relate.

I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone. I actually already passed it on to my mom (great thing about having an actual book, right?). Who knows if she’ll actually read it, but I hope she does.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

If anyone else has read the After series, they’ll completely understand why I chose to read Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice next. Kind of crazy how one author’s words can inspire you so much that you feel the need to read other works they mentioned just so that you can understand their characters better, isn’t it?

I’m not super familiar to Jane Austen’s work to be honest. I remember reading Emma in high school, but it was for an assignment and for some reason anytime I’ve been assigned to read it I just don’t do well with retaining any of it. Probably some psychology we could get into there, but this isn’t the place for that.

I also did read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but I think that and the original novel really should be kept separate from each other. I don’t remember it that well, but as far as I’m concerned they tell very different stories.

When I started reading Pride and Prejudice, I have to say, I was really bored. The first half of the book was really uninteresting to me and honestly I was struggling to get through it without falling asleep. Darcy was a jerk, Elizabeth hated him.

When he confessed his feelings for her it felt really out of place. I understand that he had pride, so he felt that anyone would be honored to receive a proposal from him, but what really made him think she would accept? Maybe he thought she was mean to him because she liked him? It was just strange to me.

However, once she told him off and he wrote her the letter I did start to feel more connection to the story. They misunderstood each other and had to adjust their ways of thinking to come back together at the end. It was cool to see the ways that they both changed.

I did really enjoy the second half of the book. Seeing Darcy redeem himself with Elizabeth and the ways that he was willing to change the way he was and help her out behind the scenes because he loved her was actually kind of touching. Elizabeth ended up with Darcy because she respected him and because he respected her. I can definitely see why so many people love this story.

My grandmother apparently loved the adaptation with Colin Firth, so I may need to check that out eventually. In the meantime, I’m going to go watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because it’s free on Comcast right now.

After We Collided by Anna Todd

When I read through a book really quickly sometimes it’s hard for me to figure out what exactly I want to say about it. I think it’s safe to say that the After series has me hooked.

At first I was a little put off by the perspective changes, but it was kind of nice to see things from Hardin’s point of view. I always think back to this creative writing class that I had in college where the professor told us that switching the narrator is lazy writing, but I think sometimes it can be done really well and add to the story.

The relationship between Tessa and Hardin in this book was definitely a roller coaster ride. They have so many highs and lows, it’s hard to keep up with. It’s exactly what I was expecting to happen when I finished the first book, and I plan on reading the others, but I really hope it’s not the same thing over and over again. I want to see these characters grow and stop being so toxic to each other.

I kind of wish that Anna Todd would have built more into Zed being a bad guy. I feel like until he took Hardin’s phone to text Tessa I really didn’t believe that Hardin was telling the truth about Zed not having good intentions. I wish there was some foreshadowing to this. Maybe there was and I just missed it?

I really am curious to see what could possibly happen in the next two books. I’ve seen that the fifth book takes place before everything, so that should be interesting to read.

I’m sure I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on the third book.

After by Anna Todd

I’m really not sure where to begin with this one. I guess I’ll start with a little explanation.

My mom told me a few months ago that she had watched a movie called After on Netflix and she thought I would like it. Honestly it didn’t sound that great from the description, but after spending an hour trying to find something to watch I decided to give it a shot.

Honestly I was surprised at how much I actually liked the movie. I guess I think that since I’m an adult I won’t like these teen love stories anymore, but really I should just admit to myself that they get me every time.

Obviously, I was excited when I found out that it was originally a book series and that there were multiple books in the series. UNTIL I stumbled across the Wikipedia page where I found out that this was originally written as Harry Styles fan-fiction.

I will say, I’m a big Harry Styles fan and definitely had a crush on him when he was in One Direction. I’m just not really usually impressed by fan-fiction and honestly would never have put two and two together that Hardin Scott was modeled after Harry Styles.

Even after reading the book, it’s hard for me to understand why Anna Todd would turn Harry Styles into this horrible, manipulative character. I mean, are we really supposed to believe that the guy who wears flowery suits would act this way towards a woman that he truly loves? I definitely had to disassociate my idea of Harry Styles from the character of Hardin Scott when reading this book.

That being said, I actually really enjoyed reading it. Hardin is horrible and Tessa definitely shouldn’t have stayed with him this long. He’s crazy manipulative and controlling, and the way he is with her is borderline abuse, but I found myself unable to put this book down. Honestly Tessa isn’t much better. They both overreact whenever they argue and even though she tries to see things from his point of view, she still seems to be unwilling to change for the relationship even though she asks him multiple times to change for her.

This really isn’t some great work of literature, but it is entertaining. I’m definitely going to read the next book. Since there are 5 of them, I’m assuming she forgives Hardin again and takes him back. I’m sure they’ll fight more and break up about a million more times, but I do kind of need to know what comes next.

So even though I’m conflicted about the inspiration for the story, I have to say Anna Todd does really know how to keep someone interested with her writing. Maybe it’s sort of like a car crash you can’t look away from? Anyone else feel this way reading it?

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

After reading You, I absolutely had to know where the story would go.

I thought that it would be more about what happened to Joe after he killed Beck, how he was worried about the mug, the therapist, etc. There was a little about that and it was sort of interested, but for the most part it felt like this story wasn’t going anywhere.

After Beck, Joe dated Amy. Again there were obvious red flags with her, but he thought he was in love. She, of course, left him and stole from him. It made him feel like an idiot, so he decided to hunt her down.

I honestly would have preferred that the story just be about getting back at Amy. Instead he meets a woman named Love (completely ridiculous to literally name a character in this story love). I really have no idea why the author felt the need to distract him from everything else going on by having him fall in love with a character literally named Love. Then there’s a whole side story with her brother that I’m not even going to get into. It all just felt like a distraction.

The only purpose of Love is that Joe ends up confessing his crimes to her and she goes and gets the mug from the Salinger house. Honestly, I feel like there had to be a better way to get Joe in there to get that mug. It’s a bit of a stretch honestly.

It’s crazy too that she was just cool with his entire confession, all because she has a crazy brother. It was incredibly dumb and made me hate it honestly.

Eventually Joe runs into Amy, but it’s very anticlimactic. He just sees her and decides not to kill her because he’s in love with Love.

Joe finally gets caught at the end, but it doesn’t really come together well. There were just little things here and there, no real evidence was found against him. The part about Joe and Love having to figure out the answer to the police officer’s question was dumb.

Just overall, I wasn’t very happy with the storyline. It doesn’t feel like it was well thought out and it’s too complicated. There were also way too many celebrity name drops. It was almost like the author thought that the first season would get picked up as a tv show or movie so she wrote the second novel to see how many celebrities she could actually get into it.

I actually would not recommend this to anyone that liked the first book. I’m interested to see how true to the storyline the show will be in it’s second season. I hope they simplify it some.

You by Caroline Kepnes

Yet another Netflix inspired read! I promise I’ll start reading books that haven’t been made into movies or tv series eventually.

I’m so glad I read this one though. The book was 100% creepier than the show. Joe was so creepy and the worst kind of stalker. Watching Beck from outside her apartment, stealing her phone, reading her emails. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to find out someone was doing that to me.

As much as Joe creeped me out, Beck was honestly worse. She was a terrible person, so I didn’t care that Joe was so creepy toward her. I felt like she deserved it, or like it’s what she actually wanted.

I don’t want to victim blame, but Beck really didn’t care about anyone other than herself. She was miserable and wanted to make people around her miserable, and she expected these people to worship the ground she walks on.

I do really hate to say it, but I feel like she was just asking for something like this to happen to her and I think she actually enjoyed the drama of it all. She even mentions that she knew he had followed her, like she didn’t mind that he was stalking her from the beginning. It’s all pretty messed up honestly. As much as I didn’t like Joe I felt like he deserved better than Beck.

Beck definitely needed a better therapist because she clearly had a lot of issues that she needed to deal with.

The craziest thing is how relatable the story actually is. I thought to myself “how many times have I looked up someone I just met and stalked their social media accounts?”. We all do it.

You look at someone’s profile online and immediately make up your mind on if this is someone that you want to get to know better or not. I can definitely understand creating this image of someone in your head and what your future would look like together. I can understand the willingness to look past the bad stuff about them because you have this perfect future planned out.

It’s so crazy dating in a world with social media, especially with the jealousy and insecurity that it creates. I’ve been here. I spent two years trying to date someone who never gave me the attention that I craved from him. I would see him like other girls’ pictures when he never liked mine. It made me feel like shit about myself, but then also made me feel like it was a challenge. Like maybe if I did something differently it would get his attention. Why do we hold on to people who don’t want us?

This book definitely does a good job portraying how bad it can really get. I’m going to have to read the next book in the series now.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I remember being little and watching The Haunting when it first came out in 1999. I’ve seen the movie about a million times since then and honestly can’t believe that I never knew it was a book.

It wasn’t until Netflix adapted it into a series that I realized it was based on the novel of the same name and absolutely decided that I had to read it. (Side note: Netflix is becoming a bit of a theme here isn’t it?)

The movie is definitely a closer adaptation of the book than the show was, but I feel like all three were done really well and told the story of Hill House.

I actually don’t think I’ve ever read a “horror” novel before, so this was a first. It was really creepy and I really liked the little scenes here and there that showed the house was haunted.

All of the characters had very strange, very different personalities. It was interesting to see how their personalities meshed together. It was obvious from the beginning that Nell was being affected by the house the most. I honestly was absolutely positive she was going to jump off that tower (probably because of Nell’s fate in the series).

The crash at the end happened pretty quickly, so I wasn’t sure that Nell had actually died. I hoped that she didn’t, or that if she did there would be a little bit about her ghost.

It’s super creepy how the house seems to consume the people in it. The series did a really good job showing that too.

I’m interested in seeing what the next season will be about since they’ve stated that it’ll be an entirely different storyline. It’s kind of sad honestly because I really fell in love with those characters, but it did have a good ending.

I did really like how there were subtle nods to things in the book in the series like the cup of stars, throwing rocks at the glass greenhouse, and the poem that the flapper woman recites.

Highly recommend the book if you’re a fan of the show. It was definitely worth the read.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

I really enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, so when I heard that HBO was making a show based on another one of her books I was definitely intrigued. I watched the show before reading the book and absolutely loved it. The acting was so good, and I was completely shocked with the ending. Of course, I had to read the book afterwards.

There were so many more details that helped explain things in the show. Meredith talking about Amma’s biting explained the teeth pulling so much better, and it was something I was curious about when the show was on.

I don’t think I realized that Amma was only 13. Maybe because the actress looks a lot older and I definitely wasn’t doing the things she was doing when I was 13. It’s pretty crazy to think a person that young is capable of doing the things that she did. I wonder how much of it was because of her mother and the way she was raised.

The book had so many more details in the ending, so I’m really glad that I did read it. The show had a few flashes at the end revealing Amma and her friends as the murderers, but the book really goes into detail about what happened after Camille figures it all out. It was definitely an enjoyable read.

Pretty sure I’m going to read Dark Places next. I saw that movie when it came out and wasn’t really interested in the story, but I’m thinking it may make more sense if I read the book. Plus Gillian Flynn is obviously a great storyteller and I kind of just want to get my hands on anything she writes at this point.